The Budget this week was very much about growth and incentivising businesses to invest in their companies. I have been asking the Chancellor about this on behalf of all the businesses who had told me that they wanted certainty and stability. This should help.
Like others, I am not happy corporation tax has gone up but many businesses will be able to offset any increase with investment and innovation reliefs.
Getting people back to work was another challenge Jeremy Hunt addressed. Firstly, he expanded 30 hours' free childcare hours to cover all children from nine months to five by 2025.
The Education Select Committee is doing an inquiry on this and widening the age bracket will help but we need to increase the number of nurseries and childminders quickly to provide the places for all the extra children. The Chancellor agreed a 30% increase in the amount paid per child – the amount nurseries had been asking for.
Secondly, the abolition of the Lifetime Allowance on pensions will help our senior public servants to remain in the workplace, especially doctors and air traffic controllers based at Swanwick who have been writing to me. I had been pressing every Chancellor from George Osborne to Jeremy Hunt about this issue too.
It appears to be the only item that is being criticised by the Opposition who were in favour of the idea too last year, so they have no credibility on this one. It is not just doctors that we need in the workplace but many experienced people in the public and private sector.
I am also pleased with money spent on helping older people back into the workplace, we have a very ageist society in the UK. I was recently hearing from an American whose father had retrained age 60 to become a lawyer and continued practising into his 80s. It is the same with politicians in America and I am constantly looking for older people to put their names forward for political roles. Older people were young once and experience is invaluable.
Another notable event this week was the Illegal Migration Bill, probably not the best named Bill as you can read it two ways. It does need amending particularly on modern slavery and children and I suspect it will make very slow progress through the Lords. We must do something about the traffickers and before the summer when more boats will be making the dangerous crossing.
Theresa May stopped the lorry loads coming and this latest method that traffickers are using is far more visible. I am pleased that the Prime Minister is working with the French and it will be money well spent if we can start processing applications on French soil.
It would be far better to stop people migrating in the first place and I will be campaigning to increase foreign aid to build economic resilience in developing countries as a further deterrent
I met with a group of Israeli civil society members this week. They are very concerned with the state of Israel and are worried about its survival. You may have read about the protests against the latest Israeli government.
They are concerned about Palestine and the human rights violations that are happening. Having visited the West Bank, there are two areas that I was particularly shocked by. The Military Courts in the West Bank where Palestinians, including children, are tried rather than in civil courts, and the aggression of the settlers.
You may have seen in the news the recent burning of a Palestinian village by settlers. All of this is against international law and it is becoming untenable. I asked the Foreign Secretary about this on Tuesday, but there is no point talking about a two-state solution if we don’t recognise one of the states.
On Wednesday, I stood up to ask a question to the Digital Minister in a crowded chamber just before PMQs. It was very uplifting to have a lot of cheers from my colleagues before I asked my question about broadband in Bramdean and Cheriton. The response was positive so I hope that we can have it sorted soon. It was one of my pledges in my plan when I was elected to sort out broadband and I have had a lot of success but there are a couple of pockets that still must be fixed.
Waterlooville is my other priority and I am working with our amazing local councillors on that.
I am out and about campaigning this weekend as local elections are approaching. Have a good weekend!